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Religious restrictions increase across the globe despite hopes for Arab Spring

Published: Tuesday, July 7 2015 10:04 a.m. MDT

Mourners and journalists gather for the interment of Pope Shenouda III at the Saint Bishoy monastery in Wadi Natroun, northwest of Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, March 20, 2012.  (Khalil Hamra, Associated Press) Mourners and journalists gather for the interment of Pope Shenouda III at the Saint Bishoy monastery in Wadi Natroun, northwest of Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, March 20, 2012. (Khalil Hamra, Associated Press)

A new study released by the Pew Research Center shows that in 2011, religious restrictions increased in the Americas, Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as in the Middle East and North Africa.

Despite suggestions from world leaders that the Arab Spring might help lead to greater freedoms for people in the regions affected by the uprisings, Pew's study shows that government restrictions on religion in the Middle East and North Africa remained high while social hostilities increased.

According to the data, Muslims were harassed by national, provincial or local governments or by individuals or groups in 101 countries in 2011. Christians were harassed in the largest number of countries — 105 — while Jews were harassed in 69 countries.

Afghanistan, Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen were added to the list of countries with "very high" government restrictions on religion, while Turkey was removed from the list. The United States is listed as having "moderate" restrictions on religion.

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